Every month I do a story in the SF competition on LinkedIn but this month a Facebook post provoked a second story and I took down the first and replaced it with this one. The theme was resurrection, and the elements to be included were a glass of wine and silver coins (bit of a genre crossover, to be sure). I am very bad at thinking up names so I borrowed some names from the FB post, but would like to stress that it’s just a bit of light-hearted SF, wishful thinking if you like. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is, well, unavoidable, but the histories and reactions of the characters, that’s purest invention. Just me taking my own potshot at a safe distance from cover, against what is not, unfortunately, an endangered species.
‘Not just because you’re a hunter, Brad. It’s because you are so very proud about it, so open and honest in the face of the bleeding heart brigade. It makes you the perfect man.’ She smiled at him, her eyes warm and quite definitely admiring. Brad swelled slightly. Pretty women didn’t, it had to be said, look at him with warm admiration very often. And he didn’t think he’d ever been called a perfect man before. He rather liked it.
‘Well, of course I’ll help if I can. Virtual reality, is it?’
‘Oh, much better than virtual. A huge scientific breakthrough means hunters can have a real safari but the animals are resurrected. A kind of a closed loop, secret from the bleeding hearts, and still offering the whole experience.’
‘Like stocking a trout pond?’ Brad offered and she beamed at him, openly impressed by his quick understanding.
‘We’ve approached you as an expert for advice in the marketing. And to ask how popular you think it would be.’
Well, to be honest;’ he hated to disappoint her, but she just wasn’t quite getting it. ‘I’m not sure, if the animal jumped up two minutes later and got on with its day, that there would be the same feeling at all. You said I can say anything to you, right?’
She nodded, smiling, and he shrugged almost shyly.
‘Well, when I was four, I killed my kitten. Hit it on the head with a toy hammer. It’s the strongest memory of my childhood, it was bouncing around its little tinkling ball and I hit it and it was just a scrap of fur and meat. I couldn’t believe it. My mum got me a new kitten that afternoon and I watched it and watched it and then I hit it and the same thing again—just blood and fur and meat. Four years old, and I felt like God. Now if the kitten had come back to life, shaken itself and gone back to playing with its ball, well, I wouldn’t be God, would I?’
She topped up his glass of wine, her brows puckered in thought. ‘I hadn’t seen it that way. That could be a problem. Would it help if they only had a few lives, and would eventually die?’
‘It might, a bit,’ he daringly patted her knee and swelled again when she smiled sidelong at him and didn’t twitch her knee out of reach. ‘I tell you what, I’d be happy to try the game for you, tell you how convincing it is.’
‘I hoped you’d say that! We’ll make it nine lives, I think—in memory of your kitten. Do you accept the tokens?’ She handed him a few silver coins and he nodded eagerly, huffing with pleasure to see a rhino etched on the first, a leopard on the second.
‘I’ve killed a good few of these in my time! I accept, yes of course. But what;’ he was still squinting, trying to make out the bipedal image on the third in the sudden flood of light, when he realized the light was hot sunshine, that he was naked, that the exciting unique smell of Africa was filling his nostrils, and he was not alone.
‘Our guns, Brad! Where are our guns?’ Stephen grabbed his arm in panic, just as a heavy rifle boomed out and his head disintegrated, blood and meaty chunks of flesh a wet spattering against Brad’s face. He recoiled in horror even as his leg was abruptly knocked heavily and he staggered, numbing shock followed by a wave of excruciating pain before the crack of the rifle had even registered. Matt screamed thinly as he backed away, then turned to run, and Brad hopped frantically after him before a huge thump in his back shoved him to the ground and agony flared.
Through the roaring in his ears, his heaving gulps for air through the pink froth bubbling on his lips and the distant excited cheers, he heard her warm voice. ‘That’s one, Brad. Get well soon. Eight to go.’